The New Foundation - Artem Anisimov: Yes or No?

USA TODAY Sports

In a new series, we take a look at the guys on the roster in an effort to decide whether or not they're part of "the core" going forward.

In the past, we did an off-season series asking the rhetorical question: So, [Player], You Want To Be A Blue Jacket?" We tried to highlight the player, his stats, what he brought to the table, and what he needed to do going forward.

So, as I was in a discussion over at Blue Shirt Banter about Rick Nash as well as Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon, and Brandon Dubinsky, it occurred to me that we should probably do something similar for the current roster.

Here's the thing: I think we've all talked at length about the need for top-line talent on this team. I think we'd all also (mostly) agree that we have more than enough bottom six players to cobble together a bottom six once this new "top line talent" is in-house in the future. There are only so many roster spots, you know?

So, who goes away?

This series of posts will aim to explore each player, bring their strengths and weaknesses to the front, project a position for them on a "decent" Jackets team, and decide if they're part of the "Core" going forward. Sounds simple enough, right?

Cool. Let's get started. First up:


Artem Anisimov

#42 / Center / Columbus Blue Jackets

6-4

200

May 24, 1988



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2012 - Artem Anisimov 18 6 2 8 -6 8 1 0 2 43

Anisimov came over in the Rick Nash trade, of course, and instantly made his presence felt by scoring a goal and the shoot-out game-winner in the team's first game of the season against Nashville. As he's gotten more comfortable with the Jackets, he shows flashes of being a legit top-six center. At age 24, we were told right after the trade that, if given the right ice time, Anisimov could flourish.

So, how's he doing? More importantly, how does his future look?

Through 18 games played, Arty appears to be trending upward. In his career in New York, he played 243 games in three full seasons prior to coming over. He is currently scoring goals at double the rate as his career averages in New York, though the sample size here is admittedly small:

'09-'10 - 82 games, 12 goals - 0.15 goals/game
'10-'11 - 82 games, 18 goals - 0.22 goals/game
'11-'12 - 79 games, 16 goals - 0.20 goals/game
'13-'13 - 18 games, 6 goals - 0.38 goals/game

It should also be noted that, so far, his shooting percentage continues to trend upward. In his three full seasons in New York, it was 9.7% and 9.5% in his first two years, and then jumped to 12.1% last year. So far, Arty's converting at a 14.0% rate. A positive sign, to be sure.

His assist numbers have dropped by that same amount, however. That can partially be attributed to getting used to new teammates, and/or lack of finishing, but--again, despite a small sample size--is an area for improvement:

'09-'10 - 82 games, 16 assists - 0.20 assists/game
'10-'11 - 82 games, 26 assists - 0.32 assists/game
'11-'12 - 79 games, 20 assists - 0.25 assists/game
'13-'13 - 18 games, 2 assists - 0.13 assists/game

Overall, though, Arty's points-per-game rate has started off high here in Columbus, nearly matching his best season mark of 2010-2011, and slightly ahead of last season:

'09-'10 - 82 games, 28 points - 0.34 points/game
'10-'11 - 82 games, 44 points - 0.54 points/game
'11-'12 - 79 games, 36 points - 0.46 points/game
'13-'13 - 18 games, 8 points - 0.50 points/game

Again, though, the sample size here in Columbus is very small. That said, it's good to see the numbers haven't drastically slipped, and the shooting percentage is climbing.

What about defense? On this team, it can be tough to quantify overall, because the blue line has been a revolving door and neither goaltender has really stood up. That said, Anisimov is getting plenty of chances to assert himself defensively. Overall, he's -6 so far, though most would agree that's a stat with plenty of "yeah, but"s attached to it. What about those?

His Relative Corsi Quality of Competition of .950 is highest on the club of anyone who has played 10 or more games; last year in New York, his number was .508 (that said, his previous two years in New York were 1.412 and -.221, so he's been all over the map). So, for Columbus, he's facing the toughest competition. His zone starts also reflect a reliance on defense: he's at the bottom of the team (players who have 10 games played or more) in terms of offensive zone starts at 41.4%. He's middle of the pack in terms of offensive zone finishes at 52.9%.

So, those numbers would say that he's being asked to play against the toughest competition, and is more often being asked to do so outside of the offensive zone. But, he's doing a good job of finishing in the offensive zone.

Anisimov is leading the team in faceoffs taken with 256, though his 48.4% win percentage is 9th. That success rate is actually an increase from last season (46.7%), the season before (44.5%), and the year before (44.9%). So, if you look at it as a trend, his faceoff work is improving, and he's doing it against the toughest opposing competition.

He's fifth in the forward corps in overall TOI/game at 16:35. Breaking that down, he's fourth among forwards in TOI/game on the PK (1:52), seventh in TOI/game at EV (12:48), and eighth in TOI/game on the PP (1:55). In other words, he's being counted on proportionally more on the PK than in other situations than other forwards. If you watched the Edmonton game Tuesday night, you saw what kind of difference he can make on the PK.

So, overall, what does that mean?

Anisimov is a guy who still has a little room to improve as a guy who's about to turn 25, but to expect that he's going to have a huge growth in offensive output might be a bit far-fetched. That said, the Jackets are putting him into some tough situations, and he seems to be handling it quite well.

Offensively, he's scoring goals at a far better rate so far than he ever did in New York, though we should expect that number to regress back closer to his averages. His points/game totals are as good or better than they were in New York.

To me, Anisimov fits the bill as the perfect 2nd/3rd line center candidate going forward. Given his faceoffs, he might be able to move to wing at some point as need dictates, but he is showing that he can play a defensive role while also contributing more offense than the typical Jackets 3rd liner. At age 24/25, he definitely fits into the future of the club as it's being re-made. So:

The Core Blue Jackets - Artem Anisimov: Yes or No?

I say yes. What say you?

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